Noted scholar to deliver commencement address

A nationally prominent judge, historical scholar and author will deliver Mississippi State University's 2011 fall commencement address.

Frank J. Williams, who served as chief justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court from 2001-08, will be featured during the Friday, Dec. 9 graduation program to begin at 7 p.m. in Humphrey Coliseum.

More than 1,200 students are scheduled to receive degrees. Those choosing to participate in the ceremony will include a number of graduates from the summer term, for which there is no separate event.

Williams, who is listed in as one of America's leading jurists, was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003--and given the rank of major general--to the then-Military Commissions Review Panel for tribunals to be held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Subsequently, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 created the Court of Military Commission Review, on which Williams continues serving as chief judge.

Williams also is widely considered among the nation's leading authorities on the life and times of Abraham Lincoln, and is known as one of the country's most renowned Lincoln collectors.

He has served since 1996 as founding chairman of The Lincoln Forum, a national assembly of Lincoln and Civil War devotees numbering more than 1,000. Simultaneously, he serves as president of the Ulysses S. Grant Association, an office he has held since 1990.

Through an agreement signed with the Grant Association in late 2008, MSU's Mitchell Memorial Library became the official host of the Grant papers. Involving some 15,000 linear feet of correspondence, research notes, artifacts, photographs, scrapbooks, and memorabilia, it is the largest single collection of material of and about the famed Civil War general who went on to become the 18th U.S. president. (For more information, visit

Williams is a scholar of national reputation and holds honorary degrees from multiple colleges and universities.

He has authored or edited nearly a dozen books, including "Judging Lincoln" (Southern Illinois University Press, 2002). He currently is working on an annotated bibliography of all the Lincoln titles published since 1865 for SIU Press, for which he also is writing "Lincoln as Hero."

Allison Matthews | University Relations

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